Andrew un­der fire from the Palace

Queen did not give bless­ing to BBC in­ter­view, says royal source, as Duke faces fresh con­tro­versy over Ep­stein claims

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Camilla Tominey as­so­ci­ate Editor and Victoria Ward

THE Queen did not give her ap­proval for the Duke of York’s News­night in­ter­view about his friend­ship with Jef­frey Ep­stein, The Daily Tele­graph has learnt.

Palace in­sid­ers last night ac­cused the Duke’s pri­vate of­fice of “op­er­at­ing in a silo” as it emerged Her Majesty was only made aware of the prime­time in­ter­ro­ga­tion by Emily Maitlis after it had been set up.

Rather than end­ing spec­u­la­tion about the Duke’s be­hav­iour, the hour­long pro­gramme re­vived the con­tro­versy and gen­er­ated fresh ques­tions about his move­ments and var­i­ous “al­i­bis” he gave.

Se­ri­ous ques­tions were be­ing asked at the Palace about why the Duke had been ex­posed to a no-holds-barred in­ter­view with­out any pre­con­di­tions at­tached. It left him hav­ing to an­swer re­peated ques­tions about whether he had ever had sex with Vir­ginia Roberts Gi­uf­fre, an Ep­stein sex slave, when she was 17, or with other young girls.

One for­mer se­nior courtier de­scribed the in­ter­view as “ex­cru­ci­at­ing” while oth­ers said it was a “car crash”, but sources close to the Duke said he stood by his de­ci­sion and claimed he had an­swered the ques­tions with “hon­esty and hu­mil­ity”.

It came as the Prince of Wales was urged to con­sider down­grad­ing the Duke’s sta­tus as a work­ing royal when he be­comes king. The Duke also faced ques­tions over a £15,000 loan his exwife Sarah, Duchess of York, ac­cepted from Ep­stein, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing whether he had a hand in ar­rang­ing the loan and whether it was made before or after the Duke claims to have cut off con­tact with the dis­graced bil­lion­aire.

Ev­i­dence emerged yes­ter­day that con­flicted with his ex­pla­na­tion for why Ms Gi­uf­fre’s claims of sex with him were wrong. In par­tic­u­lar, his sug­ges­tion that a pho­to­graph of him with his arm around her waist could have been faked be­cause he never wore ca­sual clothes in Lon­don was un­der­mined by pic­tures of him wear­ing a near-iden­ti­cal out­fit on a night out in the cap­i­tal.

Mean­while, the NSPCC dis­tanced it­self from the Duke, for­mer pa­tron of its Full Stop cam­paign, after he said his role meant he “knew what to look for” if chil­dren were be­ing abused. The char­ity told The Tele­graph: “Prince Andrew was a pa­tron of the NSPCC Full Stop Cam­paign, which ended in 2009.”

Royal in­sid­ers left lit­tle doubt yes­ter­day about the level of anger among Palace staff at the Duke’s de­ci­sion to grant the BBC in­ter­view, and about the ad­vice he was given.

One royal source said: “The state­ment Buck­ing­ham Palace is­sued said the Queen was aware of the in­ter­view but not that she ap­proved it. It’s ex­tra­or­di­nary how this has un­folded, with­out any real con­sul­ta­tion with the Palace press of­fice or even the Queen’s pri­vate of­fice. It does seem as if the Duke of York’s pri­vate of­fice is op­er­at­ing in a silo, which is re­ally quite dan­ger­ous be­cause there is a lack of ac­count­abil­ity there. In­ter­nally, this is be­ing seen as a f--- up.”

A Palace spokesman would only re­fer to a pre­vi­ous state­ment that the Queen was “aware” of the in­ter­view.

“We can­not com­ment fur­ther,” she added. One royal ad­viser said: “This in­ter­view was com­pletely un­prece­dented in of­fer­ing a royal up for one hour on one sub­ject with­out any ques­tions be­ing off lim­its.

“Or­di­nar­ily you would say to the

THE Prince of Wales has been urged to con­sider down­grad­ing the Duke of York’s role as a work­ing royal when he be­comes king, in the wake of his dis­as­trous tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ance.

The Prince is not be­lieved to have been in­formed about his younger brother’s News­night in­ter­view un­til shortly before broad­cast. The fall­out is likely to over­shadow the be­gin­ning of his week-long tour of New Zealand with the Duchess of Corn­wall, which be­gins in Auck­land to­day.

The Prince is said to have re­garded his brother’s de­ci­sion to grant the in­ter­view with “in­credulity and alarm” and had con­sid­ered it “mis­guided”.

A se­nior royal source, not­ing the public back­lash, told The Daily Tele­graph: “It’s pos­si­ble the Prince of Wales could de­cide to re­move the Duke of

York’s sta­tus as a work­ing royal when he be­comes king. “It’s no se­cret that Charles wants to stream­line the monar­chy when he even­tu­ally suc­ceeds the Queen, and they have had plenty of dis­agree­ments in the past over Andrew’s role and that of his daugh­ters.

“The News­night in­ter­view won’t have done any­thing to help Andrew’s ar­gu­ment that he and his fam­ily should have a more high-pro­file role.”

The Duke’s de­ci­sion to speak to the

BBC was made in a bid to draw a line un­der claims that he slept with a 17-year-old girl, and ques­tions about his re­la­tion­ship with Jef­frey Ep­stein, a con­victed sex of­fender, and to pre­vent the al­le­ga­tions from fur­ther dis­tract­ing from his char­ity work.

How­ever, the ex­tra­or­di­nary 45-minute in­ter­view had the op­po­site ef­fect, with palace in­sid­ers and royal ob­servers call­ing it “a dis­as­trous PR move”.

The Duke and his older brother were born 12 years apart and are thought to have a dis­tant re­la­tion­ship.

Their re­la­tion­ship came un­der strain in 2012 when the Prince made his fu­ture vi­sion of a slimmed down monar­chy clear by ex­clud­ing wider fam­ily mem­bers from a Buck­ing­ham Palace bal­cony ap­pear­ance dur­ing the Di­a­mond Ju­bilee cel­e­bra­tions. The Duke of York was said to be “fu­ri­ous” about be­ing pushed to the mar­gins of royal life.

At the time, he had only re­cently stepped down as Bri­tain’s spe­cial in­ter­na­tional trade en­voy amid ques­tions about his busi­ness con­nec­tions.

Sim­i­larly, the Duke had al­ways pushed Princesses Beatrice and Eu­ge­nie, his daugh­ters, to have key work­ing roles and was no­tably fond of point­ing out that they were the only two “blood princesses” of a gen­er­a­tion.

But he was dis­mayed when they too were marginalis­ed and stripped of their 24-hour royal protection in a row over the £500,000 an­nual cost.

Peter Hunt, a re­spected for­mer BBC royal correspond­ent, last night called upon the Prince to tell his brother to quit. “Their mother won’t – Andrew is one of her blind spots,” he said.

The Queen leav­ing the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Wind­sor Great Park yes­ter­day morning as her son the Duke of York faced ques­tions about his in­ter­view on News­night

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Corn­wall ar­rive for their tour of New Zealand

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